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MEW-CHILD: Ch.18: No. One

by NonAnalogue

NonAnalogue Mel grapples with both an uncomfortable truth and an uncomfortable woman.
Septimus Reus, prolific author and connoisseur of being attacked by legendary Pokemon, left no topic un-notated when it came to recording his thoughts. "Don't ever underestimate the good that a really long pause can do," he once said after a particularly close brush with a Heatran. "Think about pauses. Lulls. If there's a pause, that means that nothing is happening. And if nothing is happening, that means that nobody is, at that moment, trying to kill you. Take a breath. Collect your thoughts. Whatever happens in the future will happen, but, in the present, you can calm yourself."

It was an unusual passage from Reus, who rarely ventured into the realm of self-help philosophy. Most of his writings riffed on the theme of "why did I choose this life for myself, what was I thinking, I didn't even know a human could break that many bones".

There was a pause while Mel, faced with both two legendary Pokemon and an uncomfortable truth, tried to get her verbal feet under her. However, nobody was, in fact, trying to kill her, so the moment was a marked improvement on her last several days.

"That's nonsense," Mel eventually said. "How can I be the Mew-child? I've talked to it before. Plus, it's in the name. Child of Mew. A Pokemon. And I'm a human." She glanced over herself before adding, "Usually."

Mesprit smiled, a tender gesture on something that could liquefy all of Mel's internal organs by thinking about it. "What evidence do you have that you are, in fact, a human?"

"Really?" Mel furrowed her brow, and for the first time, she appreciated how much of a Ditto's body that really took up. "I mean… I'm human. That's my evidence. My evidence that I'm a human is that I'm a human."

"Do not antagonize the poor thing," said Uxie, letting out a breath and rapping Mesprit's chest with its twin tails. "She has been through quite enough. Yes, Melanie Rylan, you are human. That much is not in question. However, I am curious as to why you think the Mew-child could not be a human as well."

"Um. Well." Several answers crossed Mel's mind, and she knew for sure that she didn't dare say a single one of them aloud. "All of the possibilities there are kinda… not good, right?"

Both Uxie and Mesprit let out peals of quiet, chirping laughter. "I told you she would think that," Mesprit said. "You owe me a berry."

"So I do." Uxie held a paw to its chin, a faint smile visible on its face. "Be not worried, Melanie Rylan. The answer is not what you think. However, it is not our place to say more."

"Aww, but I want to see how she reacts," said Mesprit with an exaggerated pout.

"Did you forget, Mesprit? There is much work we must do before we leave this place. Many humans here have fallen before our abilities. We owe it to them to set things right."

"I suppose so." Mesprit rolled its eyes and approached Mel. "Before that, though, you need to assume your true form."

Mel's eyes widened. "My… true form? That sounds…" She backed up a few paces. "Is this going to hurt?"

"Not at all." Mesprit's and Uxie's gems began to radiate a pale red light, one that Mel found herself surrounded with soon after. She felt her body rising from the ground, her limbs lengthening, her shape in general becoming more defined. The light grew so painfully bright that she had to screw her eyes shut…

…and just as quickly as it had started, it stopped. Mel opened her eyes again and looked down at her hands.

A pair of human hands, tawny-skinned with five fairly human fingers each, were what she saw.

Mel quickly looked over herself. "Wait, so my 'true form' was…"

"How quickly she forgets!" Mesprit said, giggling.

"Melanie Rylan," said Uxie, gently resting one of its tails on her shoulder. Mel could feel psychic power emanating off of it, as consistent and unignorable as tinnitus. "It is as we said. You are human. You are also the Mew-child. There is no contradiction here. However, while there is more to say, it does not fall upon us to say it. I expect you will meet your progenitor soon."

"You mean… Mew?"

Uxie nodded slowly. "That is correct. And when you encounter Mew, I believe you will have a lot to discuss. Be at ease, Melanie Rylan. Your journey is nearly at an end. Now, we have a task to which we ought attend."

"In fact…" Mesprit glided through the air towards the doorway. "I believe we have someone to start with right outside the door."

"Oh?" Uxie followed its sibling as they left the room. "Well! It appears so!"

"What—what are you—" came a familiar voice, before falling silent.

Mel's ears twitched. She knew that voice. She'd heard it every day for years upon years. "Repeat!" she called.

There was a pause. Then…


Right outside the room, in the hallway, Mel found Uxie and Mesprit, floating in the air above Hyacinth Harley, who, judging from the pen and notepad in their hands, had been taking notes. At Hyacinth's feet was a familiar Ditto, with a familiar gleam once more in his eyes. Mel dropped to her knees and had barely opened her arms before Repeat leapt into them. "You're okay, Repeat, you're okay!" she said, a lump in her throat appearing even as a knot in her stomach faded away. The two legendary Pokemon exchanged a knowing look with each other and flew away.

"Aw, boss," Repeat said with a wide, beaming smile, "don't get too sentimental on me. I might start thinking you actually care about me or something." But he nuzzled up against her cheek, the gelatin texture of his skin comforting to her. "I'm glad you're still kicking too, boss," he said quietly. "I thought for a little while there I wasn't going to see you again."

Mel lifted her glasses and wiped at a mist that had built up in the corner of her eye. "They erased your memory, Repeat. Mine too. Even if we'd found each other, it'd be like… like…"

"Like we'd be gone forever."


Hyacinth cleared their throat. "Far be it from me to interrupt a reunion as touching as this one, but I think we would be better served conducting it anywhere that isn't this hallway. Shall we leave?"

"I don't think we can, yet." Mel slowly stood as Repeat took his normal spot on her shoulder. "Uxie and Mesprit said that they're going to help all of the Neo Rockets here. Get them their memories and stuff back. We need to make sure they get out of here okay."

"Ah, so that's what your conversation was about," Hyacinth muttered, jotting a few hurried notes down on their notepad as they and Mel began tracing Uxie and Mesprit's path. "I see. I could only understand your half of it, I'm afraid."

"How long were you eavesdropping for, anyway?"

"I take umbrage with that term," said Hyacinth, crossing their arms. "But if you must know, I saw a Ditto enter that room back there and fight the two legendary Pokemon that just left, then the Ditto turned into, well, you. From there, I could hear one side of a conversation, and based on what I heard you saying, I would guess that it had something to do with you being, perhaps, the Mew-child."

Mel stopped in her tracks. "How'd you figure that one out?!"

"Oh, it was only a little bit of deduction." Hyacinth waved a hand dismissively. "It was a theory I had been considering, though not seriously, for some time, ever since the Unown directly called you the Mew-child when we encountered them."

"What?" Mel blinked as she thought back to the message she'd received in the Tanoby Ruins. The Unown had, in fact, just said 'Mew-child' when getting her attention. And, she realized, so had the psychic call she'd gotten back at Rock Tunnel, trying to catch the Magby – that was probably the Unown too, she thought.

"On top of that," Hyacinth said, "I realized the items that the Unown were talking about both related to transformation, a skill that Mew was rumored to possess – the Upgrade was a tool used to evolve Porygon, a Pokemon that can change its own type, and the Aerodactyl fossil was, of course, on display with its Mega Stone."

"But what about all of that 'creature of past and future' stuff? They were hitting that pretty hard!"

"I have to admit, I haven't quite figured that one out yet. It's entirely possible that the Unown made it up in order to make it less obvious that they were talking about you, as well as to you." Hyacinth shrugged. "Who can say? Maybe that, too, will become apparent in time. Either way, back then, I considered it a wildly unlikely theory, so I said nothing about it. But now, based on what I observed, the pieces seem to fit together. Your reaction confirmed it for me." The lenses of Hyacinth's glasses gleamed in the harsh fluorescent light. "Q.E.D., as they say."

"Well, fine, smarty-pants." Mel stuck out her tongue, and Repeat smacked her on the back of the head. "Any other stunning conclusions that you want to dazzle us with?"

"As a matter of fact, I've been working on this fantastic thesis about canned tomatoes—"

"Subject. Mel. Rylan." The voice was cold and oozed venom, and it slid out of an open door ahead. The door bore a single number on it: '1'.

"That's her," Mel hissed. "No.2. The one who put me under."

Hyacinth readied Dozer's Pokeball. "She shall not find us unprepared."

"The audacity you have," No.2 continued, slinking out of the doorway. "First, you escape your confinement. Then you disappear before we can finish erasing your memories. And now, now that I have personally driven off those damned Genesis reprobates, I find that you stand before me, your memories intact. But even with all that in mind, with all that has been done to you here, you do not even have the common decency to flee."

Mel raised an eyebrow. That was not how she had been expecting that sentence to end.

"You press forward with your 'friend' and your 'companion'," No.2 said, emphasizing her words with a nasal twang. "I heard what you were talking about, Subject Mel. I know that you are the very creature we have been hunting all along. And knowing that, you still choose to defy me – to stay in our base. To challenge me. Listen to me very carefully, Subject Mel." She stalked closer and closer to Mel until she was inches from her face. "Do you know who I am? Do you know what I've done?"

"Do I care?" Mel grumbled. "Get out of my face!" With a violent yank, No.2 grabbed Mel's collar, her grip surprisingly tight. Hyacinth made to release Dozer and Repeat very nearly jumped onto No.2's face, but Mel held up a hand. "No. She clearly has something she's just dying to say."

"My name was Terra Ryder," No.2 hissed. "I know my name. Do you understand that? I know my name. That is forbidden in this organization. But why should that apply to me? I made this organization what it is. Neo Rocket is everything it is because of me. We would be nothing – nobody – if it weren't for my guidance!"

"And yet you're just number two in the group," Mel said, a smile playing across her lips. Sweat was running down her back, but she sure wasn't going to let No.2 rattle her, not again.

No.2 let go of Mel's collar and stepped back. Her pupils had shrunken to tiny points, and her breathing was becoming more ragged. "Just… just number two? Is that what you think, Subject Mel?" A wisp of a laugh escaped her mouth, and she put a hand to her forehead. "I know. I know! For you to really understand, you'll have to… You'll need to…"

"She is clearly not all right, Miss Rylan," Hyacinth whispered. "We should leave."

Mel shook her head. "Not before we help everyone else get out," she whispered back.

"You'll need to meet him," No.2 said, as if nobody had spoken. "Yes… that should do it quite nicely." She threw her left arm out, and a remote slid out of her sleeve into her hand. "No.1?" she called. "No.1? I am requesting your assistance." Her fingers flew across the remote control, and a dull humming echoed out from inside the room labeled '1'. As it grew louder, Mel saw what it was coming from: a motorized wheelchair that was slowly exiting into the hallway. The man seated in it was all sharp angles, gaunt and bony. He wore a gray suit that had countless holes worn into it, and what little hair he had left was silver and thin.

His head lolled to the side, his eyes unfocused. A line of drool trailed from the corner of his mouth.

Mel looked at him, blinked, and looked back at No.2. Hyacinth's pen flew over their paper. "I wondered as much," they murmured.

"Do you understand?" No.2 growled. "This is No.1. A withered husk of a man with nothing in his head. He thought to subject me to his whims once, but he failed. Do you hear me, Subject Mel? He. Failed. He was useless from the beginning. He had the legendary Mew in his grasp, but it got away from him. He tried to erase my memories, but he didn't get it quite right. And so I turned the tables. I wiped his mind over and over, time and again, until there was nothing left. The man that once called himself One – No.1 – is no one. He is nothing. This is what happens to people who cross me, Subject Mel. I take away everything from them. Everything they hold dear, right down to their very identity, is ripped from their fingers. You will be no different, Subject Mel. You and the power at your disposal will be mine. Do you hear me, Subject Mel? Do you?"

Mel sniffed. "Yeah, I hear you. So what? What're you gonna do about me? What's your next move?"

"Uxie! Mesprit! To me!" No.2 called with a snap of her fingers. "These will be Subject Mel's last conscious moments!"

Footsteps rang out across the metal floor behind No.2. "Somehow, I doubt that," came another familiar voice.

Mel's heart leapt. "Janine!"

It wasn't just Janine. She was flanked by Blue and the other gym leader from Johto – Bugsy, that's it, Mel realized – as well as the other, now former, Neo Rocket grunts. Uxie and Mesprit hovered above them, wearing impish smiles.

"Hiya, Mel," Janine said with a wink. "Owe you one, don't I?"

Blue frowned and looked to the side. "So do I, even though I don't want to admit it. Uxie and Mesprit explained some of what happened. Man, Red's gotta be wondering where I went to. I was supposed to meet him for a trip to Galar a month ago."

Mel felt No.2's emotions reverse course. "Wha—what's happening?" No.2 asked, her eyes wide. "How did—"

"We are freed from your grasp, human," Uxie said through a psychic wave that Mel heard directly in her mind. "We shall do your bidding no longer."

"And now you're… oh, how do the humans put it?" Mesprit put its paws behind its head, making a show out of considering the answer. "Ah, yes, I remember. 'Proper screwed.'"

No.2 swallowed. "Oh."

"Yes, human," Uxie said. "Oh."

Its eyes opened.

After three seconds that lasted three lifetimes, No.2 fell over, slumped across No.1's wheelchair, her eyes blank.

Mel focused her psychic senses. The manic energy that had been pent up within No.2 and gradually spilling out was completely gone.

"This gray uniform is doing nothing for me. I need to get back to Fuchsia and find my black outfit."

"You know, Miss Janine, they say that gray is actually better for blending into the night; pure black clothing tends to stand out more since very rarely is it actually pure black outside."

"Yeah, thanks, Hyacinth. Look, if Janine wants to wear the hot ninja outfit, she's allowed to."

"What was that, Mel?"

"Um, I said if you wanted to wear the ninja outfit, you could."

"Right." Janine laughed. "Look, Mel, I really do have a lot to thank you for. Hey hey hey, maybe after Blue and I are finished sweeping this place, we can get together, have lunch or something. My treat, of course."

"I'd like that," Mel said, trying to hide the pleased shiver that ran down her back. "If you find any Pokemon around the base that need a home, by the way…"

Janine pointed at Mel and clicked her tongue. "Rylan Family Pokemon Shelter. You know it." She looked over Mel's shoulder at Hyacinth, who was trying to not get in the way and failing. "But now I'm sure you've got stuff to handle. I don't know the whole story, but I get the feeling you've got this under control. C'mere." She grabbed Mel's shoulders, then pulled her into a tight hug. "Be careful, Mel. And thanks again."

Mel hugged her back. "Take care of yourself, Janine. I'll be in touch about that lunch when I'm back in town."

"I'm going to hold you to that."

As Blue and Janine turned the corner, Hyacinth met Mel's eyes. "I expect that settles your mind somewhat, Miss Rylan."

"You have no idea. I still can't believe we just pulled this off. Neo Rocket is just… gone."

"And now," Hyacinth said, "that just leaves Genesis that threatens you."

A picture of Degree Absolute's sneering visage filled Mel's mind. "Yeah," she said quietly. "I guess that's what we need to figure out next."

Hyacinth flipped a few pages back in their notebook. "As it happens, I have some idea where Degree Absolute may be. There've been reports of people moving large amounts of machinery into an abandoned warehouse on One Island."

"Their base," Mel said.

"Yes. Whatever their plan is, I suspect they are putting it into motion."

"So we should go interrupt them. And if we do it right, maybe we can stop them once and for all."

Hyacinth looked up at Mel, their eyes shining. "What do you say, Miss Rylan?"

"Hyacinth…" Mel glanced at Repeat, who nodded. "Let's go crack some heads."